As the late comedian Mitch Hedberg once theorized: "An escalator can never break. It can only become stairs. You should never see an 'Escalator Temporarily Out of Order' sign, just 'Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the Convenience.'..."
This small statement - one that used to make me laugh but now only mocks my every step - has more or less summed up the past four months of my existence. By observing repair persons not repair this cursed, perplexing device, it has become all too evident to me that the escalator is the motorized equivalent of a Rubik's Cube, be it an equivalent that's a whole lot less colorful and amusing. So a lesser equivalent, I guess. Or a non-equivalent. Whatever.
Repairing a conveyor-transport apparatus is apparently the ultimate task slash science experiment for mechanics in 2008. For one thing, it's impressive that there is actually a career track for escalator-repair persons. But what's even more impressive is that these trained persons do not seem to have the slightest clue as to what they're doing when faced with a lifeless escalator. These individuals break down themselves. "Experts" flock to 233 N Michigan Ave. in herds when ours is out of service, which, unfortunately, is rather often. I finally stopped counting the number of times the stupid thing has crapped out, as I usually count with my fingers and lost track when I ran out of fingers and hands to count on in just the third month. I tried carrying the count over to my toes and feet, but I can't see them while wearing shoes, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of physically tallying something and turns it all back into a mental game, which, again, I'm no good at. So that was that.
Anyway, yesterday I was greeted by eight professionals examining the miniature escalator in the lobby that carries us diligent workers no higher than 15 vertical feet. That's like the shortest escalator ever, people. It's also one of those narrow ones, with the tiny steps that can accommodate only one depressed, corporate-American soul. So if there were eight workers for roughly 15 vertical feet of moving stairs, at about two steps per vertical foot, that means there were enough of these brainiacs to focus on just three-and-some-change steps, each. Each! A cake walk. But for the lowly lives of these dolts, they can never figure the bloody thing out. Too much responsibility, perhaps. Instead, they stare at it like it's something they've not seen before, but have only heard second-hand accounts or seen amateur sketches of, like a mass murderer on the loose, or a cold, dead body - but unlike a cold, dead body in that these burly men look like they've certainly seen their fair share of cold, dead bodies in former, less-noble lines of work, such as mass murdering.
So wherein lies the problem? Shouldn't the one and only test for escalator-repair persons be just that: repairing a frigging escalator? "No," you say, Mr. Escalator Repair Person?! Let me see your syllabus and hall pass, I don't believe it.